Monday, September 12, 2022

Jim Woods, business advisor wtih Carlow LEO and cathaoirleach Brian O’Donoghue are encouraging businesses to apply for a Trading Online Voucher

OVER 350 Carlow businesses have boosted their online trading with a government grant.

Carlow businesses have been awarded over €700,000 as part of the trading online voucher (TOV) scheme, which assists small businesses to trade online. Eligible businesses can apply for a voucher to invest in developing their e-commerce capability. The TOV grant is currently 50% funded up to a maximum of €2,500.

The scheme is designed to help small businesses to access the opportunities open to them through trading online. This helps businesses throughout Carlow to access new markets so that they can reach new customers, grow and create more jobs.

Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to a website or developing new apps for customers. The voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low-cost online retail platform solutions to help businesses quickly establish a retailing presence online.

Speaking about the scheme, Carlow cathaoirleach Brian O’Donoghue said: “I would encourage local businesses to engage in the trading online voucher scheme. It is widely acknowledged consumer behaviour is changing and online spending is increasing rapidly. There is a big opportunity for Irish businesses to grow and access a wider market, expand their business and create more jobs. Statistics suggest that only 32 per cent of small companies are engaged in e-commerce sales in Ireland and that 70 per cent of the €850,000 spent online by Irish consumers per hour is going overseas”.

Jim Woods, business advisor with LEO Carlow, added: “Since the establishment of the trading online voucher scheme, the Local Enterprise Office in Carlow has approved over €700,000 in vouchers to over 350 Carlow businesses. Now more than ever the importance and opportunity of trading online cannot be overstated. During 2020, almost 70% of Irish internet users purchased goods or services online. Any business which does not embrace online trading is truly missing an opportunity.”

The voucher may be used for IT consultation, development or upgrade of an e-commerce website, implementing online payments/booking systems or the purchase of internet related software. The voucher may also be used to finance the purchase of online advertising, app development, to implement a digital marketing strategy or consultation with ICT experts for early-stage adopters of online strategy.

Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an online trading activity are also covered by the voucher. An element of the voucher can also be used for photography or online advertising.

Businesses that have already availed of a TOV already can now apply for a second voucher. The vouchers are targeted at businesses with limited or no e-commerce presence who have ten or less employees and whose turnover is less than €2m. Applicant businesses must be trading for at least six months and also must be located within the LEO Carlow area.

The grant is not aimed at any sector. Successful applications have been received from clients in many sectors, including retail, hospitality, finance, cleaning, law, construction, recruitment and physiotherapy. Further information on the scheme can be found on localenterprise.ie.

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